NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slightly higher Wednesday after a survey showed that hiring by private companies continued at a solid but unspectacular clip in July. Banks are rising the most, while the biggest losses are going to household goods makers, phone and utility companies, which are typically considered safe investments.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 29 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,342 as of 11:25 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,159. The Nasdaq composite rose 6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,143. The Dow has fallen for seven days in a row.
HIRING: A survey by ADP said that private U.S. payrolls grew by 179,000 in July as companies like retailers and shipping firms brought on more workers. The total suggests employers continue to hire new workers and at a faster pace than they were this spring, when hiring slowed sharply.
Still, economic growth has been sluggish this year and signs indicate there aren’t many available workers to fill jobs. Economists forecast that the government’s jobs report to be released Friday, which includes hiring by government as well as private companies, will show a gain of 175,000 jobs.
BANK SHOT: Financial stocks are the biggest gainers Wednesday. Insurance company AIG jumped $3.66, or 6.8 percent, to $57.80 following a strong second-quarter report. Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange and other stock markets, said it will split its stock 5-for-1 and buy back $1 billion in shares. Its stock rose $16.55, or 6.3 percent, to $280.48. Among other gainers, Bank of America added 29 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $14.42.
BAGGED: Kate Spade skidded $4.07, or 20.2 percent, to $16.07 after the clothing, handbag and accessories company disclosed weak results and lowered its estimates for the year. The company said travelers aren’t spending as much money at stores that depend on shopping by tourists.
CROCS ROCKED: Footwear maker Crocs plunged. It reported a smaller-than-expected profit in the second quarter and its sales fell $25 million short of estimates. It’s projecting a bigger shortfall in the current quarter, and Crocs said it expects overall revenue to shrink this year. The stock gave up $2.45, or 21.3 percent, to $8.66.
HANES DOWN: Underwear, t-shirt and sock maker Hanesbrands reported disappointing results, and its shares lost 66 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $24.99.
GOING FOR A JOG: Fitness tracker maker Fitbit Inc. rebounded after its quarterly results came in stronger than expected. The stock rose $1.37, or 10.4 percent, to $14.53 in morning trading. It has lost more than half its value this year. Fitbit went public in June 2015 with an IPO that priced at $20 a share and was trading around $50 per share a year ago.
ETSY EARNINGS: Etsy climbed $1.70, or 13.4 percent, to $14.42. The online crafts marketplace said sales were better than expected and raised its sales and other projections for the year.
POKEMON POWER: Zagg, a mobile device accessory company that bought smartphone charger company Mophie earlier this year, reported an unexpected profit and sales that were stronger than estimates. Among other factors, it said the “Pokemon Go” craze boosted its sales as players needed to recharge their phones more often. The stock rose 72 cents, or 11.3 percent, to $7.08.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 80 cents, or 2 percent, to $40.30 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 89 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $42.67 a barrel in London.
OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 dipped 0.4 percent while Germany’s DAX picked up 0.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged down 0.2 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 1.9 percent and South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 1.8 percent. Japanese stocks have been slipping because the country’s recently-announced stimulus package, worth around $272 billion, fell short of expectations. Much of the money is already in the pipeline. Meanwhile a strong yen is also deepening pessimism over prospects for Japan’s recovery.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices held steady and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 1.56 percent. The dollar rose to 101.32 yen from 100.88 yen. The euro fell to $1.1171 from $1.1227.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay